Bookplate of Madame Roland de Challerange (after 1712-1781)

The Grolier Club Library’s Maria Gerard Messenger Women’s Bookplate Collection—recently digitized thanks to a 2016-2017 Digitization Funding Award from METRO—contains the bookplates of many women who have received little documentation in the historical record. This post gathers a few details about one of these women, Madame Roland de Challerange (after 1712-1781).

Madame Roland de Challerange’s engraved bookplate depicts her coat of arms flanked by cherubs and the figures of Justice and Religion. In the background stands a pyramid adorned with two hearts and a celestial crown. At the bottom of the plate is a cartouche inscribed: “De la bibliotheque / de Mdme. Roland de Challerange / Conseillere au Parlement.” The Messenger collection contains two examples of the plate: one printed in black and the other in sepia.

Charles Dexter Allen, in his Ex Libris: Essays of a Collector (Boston & New York, 1896), p. 19-20, incorrectly identifies the owner of this bookplate as Madame Roland (1754-1793), the Girondist activist executed in the Reign of Terror. However, the Revolutionary Madame Roland never used “de Challerange” in her name, and there is no discernible connection between her and the title of “Conseillere au Parlement.” Likewise, Norna Labouchere, in her Ladies’ Book-plates: An Illustrated Handbook for Collectors and Book-lovers (London; New York, 1895), p. 215-216, incorrectly describes the ex-libris as example of a French Huguenot bookplate.

The Madame Roland of this bookplate was, rather, Jeanne Anne (or Anne-Jeanne) Charlotte Saulnier de la Moisière, the daughter of François Saulnier de la Moisière (1664-1746), secrétaire du roi, and Marie-Catherine Tirmoy.[1] She was born sometime after 1712, and in 1742, she married Jean-François-Claude Roland (or Rolland) de Challerange (1701-1786), descendent of an ancient aristocratic family from Reims and seigneur of Vanault-le-Châtel and other holdings.[2] She died in 1781 in Paris, apparently with no surviving children, and was buried in Cerny, a small commune in Northern France where the Roland’s kept a petit château. In Paris, they lived on the rue des Maçons.

Monsieur Roland de Challerange served as conseiller to the Grande Chambre du Parlement de Paris, an important judicial body under the Ancien Régime. He was exiled from the parlement from 1771 to 1775, along with others, for his pro-Jansenist sympathies. It seems that Madame Roland was also an active member of the “parti janséniste” although little is known about the nature of her involvement.[3]

Monsieur Roland apparently also had an armorial bookplate with the same inscription (“Mdme” replaced with Mr”).[4] Since one often sees examples of single bookplates with both spouses’ names, the presence of two separate plates is worthy of note. It suggests that each played an active role in building the collection. There was a library at the château in Cerny— Monsieur Roland’s will allows the abbesse de la Joye Villiers à Cerny to select 100 books of her choice from it—but nothing else seems to be known about the fate of the books.

[1] Annuaire de la Noblesse de France, vol. 64 (1908), p. 309.

[2] “Une famille Rémoise,” Revue de Champagne et de Brie, vol. 19, dixième année, premier semester (1885), p. -177-187 (esp. 186-187).

[3] Dale K. Van Kley, The Damiens Affair and the Unraveling of the Ancien Régime, 1750-1770 (Princeton, 1984), p. 321 n. 200.

[4] Henri Jadart, “Les Bibliophiles Rémois,” 1ère partie, in Travaux de l’Académie Nationale de Reims, vol. 92, tom. II (1891-1892), p. 1-251 (p. 83).

By Meghan Constantinou

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